Malaysian Foundation Donates Foods to the Arakanese Communities During the Nationwide Lockdown

An Arakanese man is proud of receiving food donation. Phohp taken by Hadi Azmi
Kuala Lumpur.April 12, 2020
It is a sun shine day but the lockdown and unnecessary travel ban continues in Malaysia until April 28.  

Heartened leaders and members from Kuala Lumpur based Geutanyoe Foundation challenge the lockdown and the Covid 19 virus and go out and donate essential foods to the Arakanese (Rakhine) communities in Puchong areas. 

“We suppose to distributes the food packages to six locations and today, but the food packages are only finished to distribute over 980 refugees in two locations, IOI and Extra Tesco; some get only the tray of eggs,” Lilianne Fan said.

Lilianne Fan is the head of Geutanyoe Foundation and organizer of the food donation program to the Arakanese community.

She said, “The Arakanese communities turn out pretty good, but we don’t have enough food packages. We will help them again and soon.” 

The community leaders estimate there are about 35,000 Arakanese in Malaysia, most of them reached in different states after having war between Arakan Army and Myanmar Armed Force in 2019. 

They are mostly casual labors and work at factories, food services, plantations, and constructions. 

After Malaysia government has enforced nationwide lockdown to contain widening coronavirus infection since March 17, almost every Arakanese individuals do not have jobs and incomes. 

“My apartment has 10 friends living together since the lockdown; we share cash to pay for the rent and utility bills and buy foods, but we have run out of the cash now. Our immediate and biggest challenge is not enough foods. Next problem is to pay the rents and the bills. We don’t know how we will survive for long run,” community leader Soe Win said.

The Arakanese community is large and undocumented people. UNHCR in Malaysia has stopped registrations for the Arakanese since 2010. 

Most individuals are stopped and even forcefully taken back to their homes by police and soldiers, who guard and enforce the quarantine, when they go out to buy foods at the super markets. 

“We don’t have UNHCR protection documents as Rohingya communities have, that is why the police stop us. Some friends who have the documents buy foods for us but how long and how many times they can help us during these critical times,” said community leader U Thung Kyaw.

The Arakense community members are very happy and feel encouragement for the Malaysian foundation donating foods. 

Araknese community receiving food donations in Puchong
“We are very happy..thank you, thank you very much,” said Ma Aye Kay, the female leader of the household she manages for ten individuals during the quarantine times. 

Geutanyoe Foundation donates 134 food packages, containing in the individual package with rice 5kg, oil 1 kg, noodle 4 packers, nga kyauk 1 packet, 30 eggs, dried chili 1kg, onion 1kg, and sugar plus 35 trays of eggs to one thousand Arakanese.

The donation work and the aid workers traveling require government approvals, and it takes one week of time for preparation. 

More and more Arakanese communities are contacting the foundation for helps, and more helps are under ways. 

Our news agency gives full credit to Hadi Azmi for contributing these wonderful photos. 

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